United Utah Party holds first its caucuses

by Rhett Wilkinson

As a delegate to both Republican and Democratic conventions, David Jack thought that friends of his were “acting like (he) didn’t want them to act.”

“They were up there propagandizing,” Jack said.

Needless to say, Jack is thrilled that the United Utah Party has been created – and that the party, of which Jack is a secretary, is experiencing true success.

It held its first caucuses late last month, seeing 900 participants, UUP chair Richard Davis said. That was three times the membership total, which was 180 percent of the number of overall members just five months earlier, according to the Utah lieutenant governor’s office. And its first state convention is Saturday, Good4Utah reported.

“We are the party of reform,” said Davis, also the party founder. “We want to change the political system for the better.”

Davis said that “too many voters are disgusted with politics as usual today.”

“We believe the political system is tilted … away from the voters,” added Davis, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

Davis was quick to say that the UUP, which features 19 candidates this election cycle, favors term limits for politicians.

“Rotation in office was a principle of the nation’s founders,” Davis remarked. “Rotation brings fresh ideas and new perspectives on problems … it levels the playing field for candidates.”

Davis added that term limits “shake up” influences usually deemed as negative, like “big donors and lobbyists.”

“In Utah, there is no limit as to how much … can be given to an elected official,” Davis said.

Davis also promoted an independent redistricting commission, and “problem-solving” and pointed out that it is the only party in Utah that supports Count My Vote, which wants to let more people have a say in which candidates qualify for a ballot.

Kimberly Wagner has always been a Republican but is “less interested in strict adherence to a narrow party platform.”

“I feel like there is an openness to change in Utah politics that I haven’t seen before,” she added. “Richard Davis and party (leaders) are doing the difficult thing by establishing the United Utah Party as a viable party in Utah.”

Bruce Lindsay was a well-known journalist in Utah and spoke to why he has joined the UUP. He wants legislative districts drawn by non-partisan entities.

“To my knowledge, only the United Utah Party are with me in this proposal,” Lindsay said.

And the UUP is also the only party paying attention to ranked-choice voting, which “gives voters more choice and gives the victorious candidate more legitimacy,” and campaign finance reform, Lindsay said.

“We the people have the chance to reclaim our representative government,” Lindsay said at the caucuses. “It’s a great night for the state of Utah.”

Davis pointed out that if all 15 of the UUP candidates who are running for the state legislature were elected, the party’s legislative caucus would be nearly as large as the Democrats’.

One of those is Michele Weeks. She is seeking a seat on the state House of Representatives and is a city councilwoman in the Salt Lake Valley city of Draper, running a Facebook page called “What’s Draper Up To?”

“People in Draper are very educated and they are kept in the dark,” Weeks said. “(Elected officials) keep us in the dark because they don’t want us to be educated.”

Weeks is advocating ideas like term limits and says that she has name recognition in her 4,000-voter base. She had pointed out that she is running for office for the fourth time in five years, which includes a campaign as a Democrat for the state senate in 2014.

And Jack’s top reasons for being a member of the UUP?

“I don’t have to follow party leaders,” he said. “The other thing is that America has been hurt by all the vitriol.”

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